When To Deploy A Tag Management Solution: 8 Scenarios
You've heard about tag management and you're interested in deploying it, but when? Contributor Erik Bratt suggests things to consider, timing-wise.
As you shore up your digital marketing plans for 2015, there are likely many technologies you’re thinking about deploying to generate results.
If you’re an active marketer who is struggling to manage an increasing array of solutions and data sources, then tag management should be high on your list. (Disclosure: I work for Tealium, a company that offers this service, so I’m understandably biased in favor of tag management.)
But let’s say you’re sold on tag management as a solution — when exactly is the best time to deploy it?
This is a question we get asked a lot. Marketers want to know when it makes the most sense to introduce a tag management system (TMS) into their digital marketing technology stack.
Oftentimes, however, their assumption about the ideal timing is backward. They believe they should wait until they finish any number of key projects, from redesigning their web site to launching a new digital vendor before implementing a TMS.
In reality, tag management should be deployed up front, because it streamlines each of those initiatives and sets the stage for a far more scalable and robust digital infrastructure.
First a little background. Tag management is a relatively new technology that makes it easy to deploy and manage the various web page “tags” (code snippets) that most digital marketing vendors now require their customers to implement.
The tags are typically used for data collection, but can also launch product functionality. By streamlining tag deployments, marketers can increase campaign velocity, increase site performance and set the stage for driving more personalized customer interactions across channels and devices.
Here are eight timely scenarios for implementing an enterprise tag management solution to maximize efficiencies and increase revenue.
1. Before A Web Site Redesign
If you’re overhauling your web presence, then your web developers will likely be spending an inordinate amount of time porting vendor tag code snippets from the web pages of one site to another.
Tag management simplifies this process and makes it more economical by enabling your marketing team to deploy the code through a graphical web interface, using drag-and-drop functionality and avoiding manual coding. The likely highly-paid web developers will only have to deploy one set of tags — for the TMS.
In addition, because of this agility, you’ll be able to easily deploy additional tools to measure the impact of all the new bells and whistles you’ll be rolling out.
2. Before Deploying Enterprise Analytics
Manually implementing enterprise analytics solutions such as Adobe SiteCatalyst or IBM Coremetrics across your global web properties can take many months.
Tag management reduces the time needed for that process, making it possible for marketers and analytics professionals to spend more time defining and mapping KPIs from first-party data without having to do any coding. This agility is also important for adjusting your analytics, since initial implementations rarely cover all the necessary data collection.
Using tag management to deploy analytics is a virtual no-brainer. For example, Citrix’ SAAS division (our client) was able to reduce the initial estimate of time needed for a global SiteCatalyst deployment from four to five months, down to two weeks.
3. Before Expanding Acquisition Or Performance Marketing Activities
If you’re planning to ramp up your digital marketing activities by investing in one or more key solutions, save yourself the headache and start with a tag manager.
You will be able to deploy your solution package more quickly, which translates into faster time to revenue. In a study by Econsultancy commissioned by Tealium, 73 percent of marketers said tag management increased their ability to run marketing campaigns, with 42 percent saying it made the process “significantly faster.”
4. When Evaluating New Vendor Products
When evaluating new vendor technologies, don’t take six weeks to implement, test, and evaluate one vendor, only to take rip that tag out and take six weeks to test another. Not only is it a lot of work, but it’s like comparing apples to oranges – testing a retargeting campaign in August (back to school) is much different than testing a campaign in November (holiday shopping).
Tag management enables you to deploy both vendors during the same time period and use added testing functionality to split the traffic 50-50 to determine the best solution and results. Implementation can be done in hours, and both testing campaigns can be conducted concurrently.
5. Before Expanding The Functionality Of Your Free TMS
Most free or bundled tag managers solutions offer limited functionality. An enterprise solution will have added features and capabilities that greatly extend the functionality and data processing capabilities of the product. Great examples include currency conversion, data encryption, privacy control features, content modification, channel attribution and much more.
So before asking your developers to expand upon the free solution, at least consider what an enterprise option can offer in terms of needed functionality. In addition, if your free TMS provider is asking you to swap out existing code, now is also a great time to consider a true, vendor-neutral tag management solution.
6. Before Deploying Mobile Apps
The benefits that you get from deploying tag management on traditional web sites are neatly extended to your mobile apps. Once the tag management software development kit (SDK) is deployed within your app(s), you no longer need to re-certify it through your platform provider (iOS, Android, Microsoft) every time you want to change the data collected from mobile applications.
This translates into increased agility, reduced costs, and valuable insights that can be used to improve the mobile customer experience along with other channels.
7. Before The Holiday Shopping Season
If you’re an ecommerce marketer, you’re likely all too familiar with the holiday “code freeze” – an IT-mandated lockdown of your global digital presence, usually in October. This freeze prevents any new features or code from being introduced for fear of risking outages or other site performance issues.
Sounds reasonable, but it can also sideline additional marketing initiatives that could be used to drive results during this critical period – such as launching a new affiliate marketing campaign, or an advertising solution.
If you deploy tag management well in advance of the code freeze, however, then the tag management code that is used to serve all the other tags is already baked into the web site and approved by IT. You can now take a more active role during one of the most important times of the year, especially if results are not where you expected them to be. You can also insulate yourself from malfunctioning tags.
8. Before Purchasing Data Feeds
Getting data into your enterprise data warehouse (EDW) — by buying data feeds from your web analytics vendor or from companies offering post-processing of such feeds — can be expensive and time consuming, requiring you to buy back the raw data, process it, and then load it into your EDW.
Tag management simplifies that process by allowing you to pipe pre-correlated data directly from your TMS into your data warehouse. This saves you a significant amount of time, money and brings you closer to a real-time enterprise. For those reasons and more, any conversations around feeding data into your EDW should start with tag management.
Like many mission-critical solutions, there is no bad time to deploy tag management, which has becoming widely recognized as foundational to the digital marketing technology stack for its ability to collect and standardize fragmented data, as well as distribute it to key partners for real-time action. But as these examples show, some times are definitely better than others.
Do you have additional examples? I would love to hear them in the comments below.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.